Cafe Reviews

Cafe review: Café Life, PMQ (Hong Kong)

PMQ, a mixed art/retail space in SOHO in Hong Kong, is many things to many people, but it's one more thing for us: a boutique cafe/roaster with on-demand air roasting. This is Cafe Life.

Cafe Life offers the usual coffee drinks, both espresso and pourover, but by far their most interesting product is their on-demand roast coffee.

Coffee selection and knowledge

Cafe Life offers a decent range of coffees offering distinct flavour profiles.

 Cafe Life coffees

Cafe Life coffees

They have the standard flavours of the month (various Ethiopian and Panamanian coffees which were popular in 2014), as well as Central Americans and Colombian coffee, which is enjoying a resurgence among those tiring of fruity, bright flavours. Importantly, the staff know the coffees and can give guidance on which ones have what kinds of flavour profile and might suit which brewing method. However, their knowledge did not extend to the exact provenance of each bean variety, the farm, the varietal, the conditions in which they were grown etc. It wasn't the 'farm to cup' experience.

The Roast

The on-demand roaster is something to see in itself.

Cafe Life Roaster

 Cafe Life Roaster - in action!

Cafe Life Roaster - in action!

The on-demand roast takes 10 minutes for a 150g bag and is performed by a unique air roaster with a glass front. The roaster actually has a 1kg capacity, though they prefer smaller batch sizes (typical of air roasters, for a more even and brighter roast). All in all I can say that the roast was acceptable, but definitely not exceptional. It is difficult to attribute this to specifically the roaster or to the beans themselves (I chose the Guatemalan they had), but I would definitely say that up-market roasters in Australia, the US and UK definitely produce more interesting coffees, and roast in larger batches, than the ones on offer at Cafe Life.

However, the roast was a highly entertaining process to watch. I would say the educational experience of it would be worth a lot to many future customers.

The Ambience

Generally, the ambience of the cafe is a stand-up, with limited seating (typical of Hong Kong). It isn't a place to go chill out, unless you're already in PMQ. Definitely worth a visit to scratch the roasting nerd itch though.

 Cafe Life Ambience

Cafe Life Ambience